When you are presenting to children, keeping them interested and engaged in what you are saying can feel like a constant battle. Keeping multiple students engaged at the same time, while still getting important material across, without becoming a dog and pony show is difficult. So what are some ways to improve a presentation so the kids stay interested, and you aren’t completely worn out by the middle of the day? Here are some ideas.
1. Relate Subjects to the Students
History and math can quickly become boring if students don’t understand why these subjects are important to them or how they relate to their lives. Try to introduce a subject by first discussing a common problem the kids might face that relates in some way to the subject being taught. Incorporating that problem into the homework and other school tasks will help students remember why it is important as well.
2. Get Active
Not even adults like to sit quietly all day. Instead, have students stand up, clap, chant, and sing. These are things that every student can participate in at once and directly involves them in the learning process.
3. Use Humor
Humor is a great attention getter, relieves tension, and can help students relax into a difficult subject. Find clever ways to incorporate humor into the presentation so it doesn’t get you off topic but helps to convey the important information.
4. Use Technology
There are many options today for teachers to use technology to keep students engaged. YouTube offers a host of educational content that can bring a subject to life. There are also presentation programs that are more interesting than a basic PowerPoint, such as Prezi. Courseware can be used for small groups of students that are either ahead of or behind the rest of the class, and holding surveys via electronic remotes ensures that every student is thinking about a problem, not just the one that raises his or her hand.
5. Provide Structure
Children, especially younger children, need structure to know where they are supposed to be and how they are supposed to act. Start early setting this structure by requiring all students to be sitting quietly at their desks before you begin. Make the ending of a presentation obvious by providing a clear transition, such as switching seats or giving a call to action.
6. Use Visuals
Visuals are a great way to grab students’ attention and engage them in a discussion about a topic. Pictures, cartoons, puppets, or other small displays are especially important for younger children who have a hard time grasping difficult concepts with words alone.
7. Be Engaging
The presenter also needs to be engaging or the students will immediately shut down as soon as the funny video or survey discussion is over. Alternate the pitch and tone of your voice frequently, use hand gestures, and show your own interest in the subject. Doing these things may be outside of your comfort zone, but remember teaching is about the students, not the teacher, so think about how you can change your teaching style so students start to get more out of presentations.